How to prevent motion sickness?

Motion sickness.

All too familiar to many ocean travelers is the sickening feeling that comes when a ship encounters heavy seas.

As the ship goes up and down, rolling at the same time to the right and to the left, a passenger’s stomach seems to rise into his throat and then drop into his shoes.

The walls of his cabin seem to swim about his head.

He breaks out into a cold sweat and takes on a greenish pallor.

Wave after wave of nausea sweeps over him.

He retches until his insides feel as if they are tearing apart.

Feeling violently ill, he loses interest in everything about him, including life itself.

The torment of motion sickness transforms what could have been a delightful trip into a nightmare.

A traveler flying in a plane high above the ship passenger might feel like congratulating himself for not being on the rough ocean below and prostrated with seasickness.

But when his plane encounters turbulent air, he may not feel so self satisfied.

As the plane is tossed about, dropping suddenly like an elevator and rising just as suddenly, he feels the same sickening“ up-and-down pressure on his stomach that the traveler on the ocean liner feels.

A feeling of nausea can come over him and grow worse as the plane banks suddenly.

The cabin seems to spin about him.

Before long he frantically reaches for the special paper bag kept in the seat pocket in front of him.

Airsickness can be every bit as unpleasant as seasickness.

Whether on the ocean or in the air, the traveler can be made miserably ill by motion, but people differ in sensitivity to it.

Sensitivity to motion

Some persons are so sensitive to motion that they get sick when riding in a train or a car or even when sitting in a swing.

Others may not be affected until they begin reading while they are moving.

Still others can get sick when sitting still in a movie house watching a motion picture taken from a plane or a roller coaster.

Motion sickness can be triggered by what the eyes see as well as by what the body feels. For some unknown reason it affects women more than men.

Women travelers are five to ten times more sensitive to motion sickness than are adult males.

This is especially true with airsickness.

Half-grown children have about the same sensitiveness, whereas children under two years of age do not appear to be affected at all.

Young men between the ages of seventeen and nineteen seem to be three times as sensitive to it as males over thirty years of age.

This does not mean that adult males do not succumb to motion sickness; they do, but not as readily as other persons. In fact, 90 to 100 percent of all people are subject to some form of this sickness.

Immunity to one form does not necessarily mean immunity to other forms of it.

Cause of motion sickness

There is uncertainty as to what actually causes motion sickness.

Those who think it is psychosomatic are faced with vehement denials by persons who have suffered it.

The use of sugar-pill placebos has not stopped people from getting sick.

In one test on military fliers 20 percent of those taking sugar-pill placebos got sick.

While there are instances of people becoming sick because they thought they would, evidence points to something more than imagination as the cause.

The cause appears to lie in the central nervous system.

The nerves of the eyes, nose and internal organs contribute to the squeamish feeling associated with the various forms of motion sickness.

The principal contributors appear to be the nerves associated with a person’s sense of balance.

These are connected with the labyrinth in each ear where semicircular canals filled with fluid play a major role in the mechanism of balance.

Confirming the relation of motion sickness with the labyrinth is the fact that persons whose ear labyrinths do not function never suffer motion sickness.

Some motions of a plane or ship are more distressing than others.

Pitching and heaving movements, for example, are more likely to cause sickness than rolling movements.

The same is true when the craft makes repeated moves in more than one direction.

Motion in the walls, floor and ceiling of a cabin is especially sickening when the passenger is unable to orient himself by looking at a distant object through a window or porthole.

During World War II it was found that 80 percent of the airsickness suffered by bomber crews was among men in the navigators’ compartment.

These men usually occupied compartments Where they could not orient themselves by looking outside.

When they went to another part of the plane where they could see the horizon or distant objects on the ground, they often felt improved. '

Other aggravating factors can be the reading of line print in a moving vehicle, indigestion, too much alcohol, hunger, overeating, lack of ventilation, a cabin that is too warm, noise and vibration, the smell of food or engine fumes, and so forth.

Just the sight of a person who is sick can make an uneasy feeling in the stomach become worse.

Naturally preventing motion sickness

Motion sickness is not necessarily inevitable for you when you travel.

There are ways you can prevent it.

On a plane, for example, be careful about choosing the location of your seat.

Remember that a seat near the front or tail tends to have more motion than near the wings. Select a window seat on the right side near the wings.

Seats on the left side of a plane are bad for sensitive persons.

The plane usually banks to the left when it turns because the pilot sits on that side and can see better by banking in that direction.

The ground dips and swirls past the eyes of the passengers on that side whenever the plane banks.

This aggravates any feeling of nausea.

Sitting next to a window has an advantage over sitting next to the aisle.

It allows you to keep yourself oriented by permitting you to look out the window.

When you look out fix your eyes on distant objects that appear to be fixed.

These might be distant mountains, cloud formations or even the horizon.

Avoid looking at the nearby landscape or clouds, allowing them to swim past your field of vision.

That will make any tendency toward sickness much worse.

Perhaps you have noticed this sickening effect from an automobile when electicity poles flashed by at a blurring speed.

It is wise to avoid overeating before taking a trip.

Food in itself will not cause motion sickness, but too much food in the stomach can contribute to it.

On the other hand, it is equally unwise to fast.

An empty stomach can have just as bad an effect as a stomach that is too full.

The best course to take is to eat the food you normally do, in a moderate amount.

Start your trip with a comfortable stomach.

If you feel a bit upset, recline your seat as much as you can and rest your head on the headrest.

Keep it in one position.

The fewer head movements you make the better off you will be.

Oftentimes a feeling of nausea will pass away when the head is kept steady against a headrest.

If the up-and-down motion of the plane makes your stomach feel as if it is sliding up and down inside of you, take a deep breath and hold it when the plane hits a downdraft.

That will tend to compress your abdominal organs and reduce the feeling of movement. These suggestions

Will also prove helpful to passengers on an ocean liner.

When you begin to feel sick on a ship, get out of your cabin and go out on deck.

Recline in a deck chair, keeping your head steady.

Do not look at the moving deck and waves in the foreground.

Fix your eyes on the distant horizon.

Very likely this will cause the sick feeling to pass.

In the event that you finally succumb to seasickness, you can figure on about three days of lessening misery before you become adjusted to the motion of the ship.

After that you should be all right unless the sea becomes rougher.

Only about 3 to 5 percent of the passengers on ocean liners fail to make this adjustment.


It was not until motion sickness incapacitated large numbers of fighting men during World War II that medical science began deep research on the problem.

In 1943, Canadian researchers produced a drug that worked satisfactorily in preventing motion sickness.

A few years later an antihistamine accidentally proved effective when it stopped carsickness in a patient who was being treated for.

As might be expected, the drugs have some bad side effects.

They sometimes cause blurred vision and drowsiness, depending upon how much is taken.

To be most effective in preventing motion sickness, it is necessary to begin taking one of these drugs from a half hour to one hour before you start your trip and then at specific intervals thereafter.

Usually the effect of one pill will last for about four hours.

When taken after you have become sick, it is less effective.

Whether you will use one of these drugs or try the less certain methods for preventing motion sickness is something you will have to decide for yourself.

You know your own sensitivity to it.

In any event, there is no reason to fear a delightful trip by train, ship or plane when ways exist for you to prevent motion sickness.